Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Book Review - The Dragonbone Chair (JS)

The Dragonbone Chair: Book One (Memory, Sorrow & Thorn) by Tad Williams

Review by Jacqui Slaney

For anyone who reads fantasy novels then the name of Tad Williams is probably very familiar,  I came across him early on when I was searching for decent authors to follow, and came across this series.

This is the description:

A thrilling, heart stopping quest that blends the machinations of a king gone mad with the politics of empire, breathtaking suspense with the pity of war, a brilliantly conceived world of ancient days with the joys - and terrors - of magic

First, let me warn you this is no small book, no thin paperback that you can quickly read and then move on to the next. This is a lengthy novel and takes time and attention to read.

The main character of the tale is Simon, a scullery boy, with a mysterious past who lives in a castle- The Hayholt, where John is High King. Unfortunately, John is dying, and the people worry about his heir Elias who is an unknown quantity and there are whispers about his strange aide Pryrates and the lights at night from the deserted tower.

There is another son, Joshua, but he is not popular and is hated by his brother who blames him for the death of his wife.

Simon though leads almost an ideal life looked after by the staff in the castle, he is given the job of looking after an old advisor who lives in one of the towers. Simon at first resents this, but as time goes on Morgenes and himself become good friends until the day, his friend dies at the hand of Pryrates.

Awful events are now taking place and Simon flees the castle and out into the wilderness hoping to join with Joshua who has also fled for his life. He meets along the way a servant girl who it seems is in disguise and a dwarf like figure called Binabik who also has a wolf as a friend.

The story follows these four in their attempt to get to relative safety although it seems the whole world is steadily getting darker.

This is only the briefest of brief rundowns and barely does justice to the story, as I am conscious of the fact that some of you may not have read this book. However, I hope it gives you a taste of the excellent book and series that you have waiting for you.

As I said at the start of the review this is a long novel and the pace of this first book is necessarily slow, which can be off putting to some. This world though is created carefully with the different characters and races developed for the reader as they go along. There are many of these, but the writer carefully guides you through this enjoyable maze, as there are some great characters especially Simon and good evil baddie.

The scenes that are described are believable and though there is magic, it is necessary, not over done in any sense, and fits seamlessly into the tale.
Though Simon is the main character and you see the events mainly through his eyes, there are chapters where the view point changes, these are cleverly done and give a good different perspective.
It has been a while since I first read this book, but having reread it again, I found much to my pleasure that I still found the same enjoyment from it.
Though it takes a while to read, it is definitely worthwhile, and now I cannot wait to start on the next.

8 out of 10